- The Fundstrat cofounder Tom Lee says bitcoin futures contracts could be linked to the cryptocurrency’s “gut-wrenching” decline.
- Futures were launched in December, and since then bitcoin has fallen to $US6,500 from $US20,000.
- CBOE responds saying “recent regulatory scrutiny” and declining media interest among more likely reasons for the price drop.
LONDON – A Wall Street analyst known for his bullish stance on bitcoin has flagged the possibility that bitcoin futures contracts could be hurting the cryptocurrency’s price.
Bloomberg reports that Tom Lee, the cofounder of the research firm Fundstrat, said in a note last week that bitcoin futures contracts could be behind bitcoin’s recent “gut-wrenching” price declines.
Lee said in his report that there was “significant volatility” in bitcoin’s price around the expiration date of CME Group and Cboe futures contracts.
Both CME Group and Cboe launched bitcoin futures products in December, when bitcoin was trading close to record highs of about $US20,000. Bitcoin has tumbled since then. Bitcoin was down 0.35% against the dollar to $US6,438.56 a coin as of 8:45 a.m. BST (3:45 a.m. ET) on Monday.
Bloomberg reports that Lee wrote that traders who are long bitcoin and short futures could sell bitcoin during the price auction to cause the price to drop and leave their futures contracts “with a handsome profit.”
Chris Concannon, president and chief operating officer at Cboe Global Markets, Inc. said: “While we are excited about our recently launched Bitcoin futures, the notion that they have materially affected the bitcoin price overstates their influence and ignores other critical facts.”
“Our strict position limits and the limited open interest in our May and June settlements, suggest that the fall of Bitcoin can be more easily explained by other factors such as the recent regulatory scrutiny around the globe, steps by government tax collectors, the rise of other cryptocurrencies, and declining media interest in the asset,” he said.
CBOE said it saw open interest at the time of June’s settlement at 1,412 contracts, which is equivalent to 1,412 bitcoin. The bitcoin market would be unlikely to be influenced by that number of contracts.
Coinfloor, a UK-based bitcoin exchange operator, announced plans for a physically settled bitcoin futures contract in March. This is where holders of a contract are actually given the requisite bitcoin when the contract expires. Cboe and CME Group give the cash value of bitcoin at the expiration of their contracts.
Obi Nwosu, the CEO of Coinfloor, told Business Insider last week that the physically settled futures were a response to demand from Coinfloor’s institutional clients who were concerned about the ease of manipulation of cash-settled contracts. Any price manipulation around auctions would be short term, and if investors take delivery of bitcoin at the expiration of a contract, they can simply wait for the price to stabilise before selling it.